Business Video

The state of Photography Banzai & the YouTube channel…

I wanted to talk a bit about how things are going and some of my plans. My most popular videos on YouTube lately are the hands-on camera gear videos filmed at Camera Craft in Rockford Illinois. Thanks to the shop for allowing me to handle the cameras and record footage there.

This simple unassuming gear video recorded at the camera shop is currently my most popular video on the channel.

That collaboration doesn’t allow for super detailed videos, but based on feedback and popularity, I think those videos are truly helpful to people. I do want to continue with that. I don’t know when I’ll be able to make more of those videos again with the COVID-19 situation. Even if things are slowly opening up, it doesn’t mean the virus has gone away.

The shop is open now as long as you wear a mask, so I could ask the owner what’s possible, but right now it doesn’t feel fair to them and people I live around to increase my contact with others (staff and especially customers, touching gear, etc). I’m sure a lot of you have similar challenges of your own related to the pandemic situation.

While my main YouTube channel is over 9 years old now, I haven’t seen the type of growth other channels in this genre have seen. I put the blame on myself for that and I constantly work toward improving. With that, it’s difficult to source equipment for review. It’s clear people love gear videos and I like making them, but it’s a cycle of challenges because of the interconnection between pieces of the puzzle. I often get requests by commenters that I can’t make happen, but I try to I do what I can with the resources I have available. I’m always looking for ways to improve on what’s possible.

I also try to make the most of what I have available currently. You might have seen the “close up details” Sigma 56mm f1.4 video recently.

I set out to record as much as possible with the Canon EOS M50’s 4k video recording mode so that I could increase visual detail. This video idea is based on older content, but much higher quality compared to those. I’ve never used a 4k monitor or TV, which is comically ironic I’m producing content in 4k resolution.

I plan on doing that for all of the lenses I have on-hand. I also buy equipment when the opportunity arises like that used Tamron 18-200mm EF lens I plan on making videos about. Even when the lens was only around $95, I don’t know if or when I’ll be able to re-coop that amount of money with video content related to it. It depends on video popularity. So when I buy a piece of gear I do it because I want to use it for personal use before anything else. That way the revenue is an added bonus when it’s something I bought for personal use.

Besides gear videos, I’m also open to and trying to constantly produce various styles of work in the genres of photography and videography rather than gear focused.

A lot of my straight photography videos don’t do amazingly well, but I’ll blame myself there by saying maybe I don’t make them interesting or engaging to viewers. I don’t have answers, but I do have statistics to go by.

These are things I think about a lot and try to work on constantly. My main focus right now is that I should be clearer with the ideals related to this craft I try to articulate and promote. Basically my overall message to viewers. What do I stand for? What do I think is important?

My message here was start now and start small. Practice is more important than gear.

I’m more along the lines of photography as a hobby and see it as something therapeutic rather. I’ve done a few paid jobs here and there, but that’s not my focus for my video work. I also see photography as a means for personal growth and a bridge to connections with others.

The main thing that got me into all of this was cosplay photography. I had bought a Canon S200 Digital Elph digicam before my first anime convention in January 2003 because I found cosplay photos online and thought that would be fun to do.

This was recorded at one of the largest anime conventions around called Anime Central. For years now a group of photographers do pro-bono photography for cosplayers at an hour long event. While I usually take photos, that year I decided to make a video instead. The convention was cancelled in 2020, but it did have an online event which was fun!

So many of my friends have come from the convention and cosplay scene. I have photography to thank as the bridge to those connections. I think I need to blaze a wider and more vibrant path in that regard to articulating that in my videos.

I feel like online video could be a bridge to connections as well, but so far for me it’s only been internet based conversations and interactions. Whenever conventions start happening again I might consider attending one focused on that.